Friday action at the Intercontinental GT Challenge California 8 Hours featured some of the best drivers from around the globe adjusting their GT machinery to the 11-turn, 2.238-mile road course at Monterey County’s WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
Thirty-two cars, each with three co-drivers, took a crack at the legendary asphalt during the free practice and pre-qualifying sessions. It was all Porsche during free practice with France’s Frederic Makowiecki turning the quickest lap time at 1m24.174s in the Wright Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R, a different ride than the Manthey Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R that the factory driver had competed with all season. Fellow Porsche factory driver Patrick Long put the Black Swan Racing 911 GT3 R second on the timesheet with a 1m24.256s.
The Audi factory drivers that dominated last year’s inaugural event showed their form during pre-qualifying. German Christopher Mies recorded a 1m24.347s in the Audi R8 LMS that he is co-driving with countryman Christopher Haase and South Africa’s Kelvin van der Linde. The positioning is a good sign for Haase, who is one of four competitors vying for the drivers’ championship. The manufacturers’ championship is a neck-and-neck battle between Audi and Mercedes-AMG.
“We finished our pre-qualifying as a P1 result, which is a good result for our car of the Audi Sport Team Land,” said Haase. “This is a really good place. Now we are looking forward to tomorrow, which is qualifying and Superpole. The sun is shining, and it looks good!”
Within the Intercontinental GT Challenge group, racers in the GT4 category are battling each other tightly. Derek Deboer was the leader in pre-qualifying, clocking a 1m31.623s in the TRG Porsche Cayman Clubsport.
Qualifying will take place tomorrow with the order being determined by the combined best laps of each driver. Qualifying will conclude with a thrilling Pole Shootout in which the 15 top qualifiers will elect one driver to represent the team, and the fastest flying lap during the 15-minute time period from 2:40 to 2:55 p.m. will determine the grid positions for Sunday’s eight hour endurance event.
Saturday action will determine the season championship in Blue Marble Cocktails Radical Cup North America. The single-marque series running in support this weekend completed its first of three races at their season finale. Victories were earned by Jimmy Casey (Masters), Ethan Stone (1500), Gustavo Rafols (1340) and Enzo Prevost (SR1). Their 40-minute races take place tomorrow from 9:30 to 10:10 a.m. and 1:10 to 1:50 p.m.